This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Toyota RAV4 (13-19) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Just one petrol is offered – a 2.0-litre VVT-i with 150bhp. It’s a rev-happy, zesty unit that’s flexible enough for the town or motorway, but it’s not especially economical with an average consumption figure of 31mpg. In 2009 this was replaced by a 2.0-litre engine known as Valvematic which has more power (156bhp) but lower emissions and better fuel economy.

It’s available as a two-wheel drive which also gets a new six-speed manual gearbox (replacing the five-speed on the previous VVT-i) which is smoother and easier to use at low speeds. The standard four-wheel drive version comes only with the CVT automatic gearbox (called Multidrive S), it covers the 0-62mph sprint in 11 seconds and manages to return a respectable 38mpg, so it’s still a frugal enough choice for most.

The diesel option is 2.2-litre D-4D with 140bhp that offers a great mix between performance and economy. It’s an easy to live with unit thanks to a smooth and responsive nature plus it’s punchy enough for confident overtaking. It will happily cruise on the motorway too. This engine was replaced by a newer 2.2 D-CAT (called Optimal Drive) in July 2009, which boasts 150bhp and more pulling power, yet emits less CO2.

It also averages 49mpg compared to the previous 43mpg. This engine is available with an automatic gearbox – something not previously offered on a diesel RAV4. It’s very smooth with quick shifts and even comes with paddle shifts on the steering wheel, allowing you to change gear yourself. Buyers looking for a bit of extra kick should go for the 180bhp 2.2-litre D-4D T180.

It’s the most expensive of the three engine options, but the most powerful. It’s quick for a car of this size and class, getting to 62mph in 9.3 seconds, but in town it’s prone to stalling due to a heavy clutch. It was dropped from the line-up in late 2008.

From behind the wheel, this RAV4 feels very much like a normal hatchback, especially when compared to the previous generation RAV4. The body is well controlled in bends, impressively so for a 4×4, it corners well and the steering is precise, without being over-sensitive on the motorway. The four-wheel-drive system, stability control and traction control work – via computer wizardry – as one, which was a first in this sector when the RAV4 was launched in 2006.

The result is that it makes it easier to stop in slippery conditions, or on broken surfaces and can help you keep control in a skid. The ride is very forgiving too which makes it a comfortable motorway cruiser.